Incumbent vs. incumbent races for the State Senate and Assembly are being proposed by both parties in initial map submissions released by the Legislative Apportionment Commission on Monday that creates a starting out point for negotiations and an opportunity for public comment.
Democrats are seeking to hold their 24-16 majority in the Senate and a 46-34 majority in the Assembly. The Republican map is more aggressive, putting as many as five other districts in play, and blocking a rematch between former Senate President Steve Sweeney and State Sen. Edward Durr (R-Swedesboro) by taking his hometown out of the 3rd district.
Here are the focal points of the Democratic and Republican maps:
* The Democratic map puts two State Sens. Troy Singleton (D-Delran) and Jean Stanfield in the 8th district.
* The Republican proposal would put the state’s only Asian American senator, Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) into an difficult re-election battle in Monmouth County’s 11th district.
* The GOP also wants to put the hometowns of incumbents Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) and Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) into one district, and Robert Smith (D-Piscataway) and Patrick Degnan (D-South Plainfield) into another, while creating a likely Republican, blue collar seat in Somerset County.
* In exchange for taking back the 16th district, Republicans are offering a trade: they’ll make the 12th district, where GOP State Sen. Samuel Thompson (R-Old Bridge) will be 88 on Election Day 2023, and the 14th into swing districts that would force Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-Plumsted) into a race against two Democratic assemblymen from Hamilton, Wayne DeAngelo and Daniel Benson.
* Democrats suggest dividing Jersey City into parts of three Hudson County districts.
* Democrat also propose pitting Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) into a possible Assembly primary fight with Brian Bergen (R-Denville) and Aura Dunn (R-Mendham), and freshman Christian Barranco (R-Jefferson) into a potential primary with Assemblymen Parker Space (R-Wantage) and Hal Wirths (R-Wantage).
* The GOP map brings Senate President Nicholas Scutari into Edison.
* Both parties have proposed taking part of Morris County from former Gov. Richard Codey and creating a district that goes from Roseland to Irvington and Hillside.
* Democrats don’t appear to be making a bid to reclaim seats they lost in South Jersey in 2019 and 2021.
* The Republican map makes Bergen County’s 38th district more competitive, but pushes Bergenfield, the hometown of Assemblyman Christopher Tully, into the Republican-held 39th district. That could set up a matchup between Tully and State Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale), or an Assembly fight for Tully against two GOP incumbents, Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan) and DeAnne DeFuccio (R-Upper Saddle River).
* Republicans are proposing a more competitive 40th district by adding Clifton, Woodland Park and Glen Rock.
* A Democratic map puts Singleton and Stanfield in a Democratic-leaning 7th district, with Pennsauken in Camden returning after and creates an outside opportunity for a pickup by moving the Democratic stronghold of Willingboro and the Bordentowns into the 8th, removing Hammonton (which goes to District 9) and Waterford (they add it to District 3) but also adding two strong GOP towns: Plumsted in Ocean County and Upper Freehold in Monmouth.
The Republican map keeps the 7th mostly intact and move Waterford and Berlin to the 4th and replace them with Mullica in Atlantic and Tabernacle, Washington and Bass River in Burlington.
Both parties have suggested moving Galloway, a large Republican town in Atlantic County, from the 9th to the 2nd district, a move that could boost the re-election prospects of three Republicans who won in 2021.
Democrats are leaving the other South Jersey districts largely the same. Republicans hold the 1st and 3rd districts and Democrats occupy seats in the 4th, 5th and 6th.
But Republicans came out more assertively in South Jersey. Their map appears built to block comeback bids by Sweeney and former Assembly Appropriations Committee Chairman John Burzichelli – both ousted last year – by putting their home towns, West Deptford and Paulsboro, into the 5th district with the City of Camden.
The Democratic map makes minor changes to the 11th, adding Bradley Beach and Fair Haven. The Republican plan would make Gopal an underdog candidate for a third term. The GOP wants to take Red Bank and Neptune City out of the 11th and replace them with Rumson, Atlantic Highlands and Highlands.
That could set up a Senate race for Gopal against one of the two freshman assemblywomen, Marilyn Piperno (R-Colts Neck) or Kim Eulner (R-Shrewsbury) – or Monmouth County Commissioner Tom Arnone or County Clerk Christine Hanlon.
But the Republicans are proposing a significant disruption of the traditional districts in a bid to create potentially competitive races.
The Republican-held 12th would retain Old Bridge, lose Jackson and Plumsted in Ocean County and New Hanover, North Hanover and Chesterfield in Burlington and instead would East Brunswick, Monroe, Helmetta, Jamesburg, Spotswood and South River in Middlesex. That would put another South Asian American lawmaker, Assemblyman Sterley Stanley (D-East Brunswick) into a tough race.
The 14th district Republicans are proposing would combine Hamilton, Robbinsville, East Windsor and Hightstown with Jackson and Plumsted in Ocean County and Upper Freehold in Monmouth. That might set off the long-brewing Civil War between DeAngelo and Benson, who do not care for each other. But don’t discount Greenstein moving into the 14th, which she has represented since unseating two GOP incumbents
The GOP’s newly-aligned 17th is safe Democratic but potentially pits two Middlesex legislators, Greenstein and Zwicker, into a convention or primary fight. Their map puts Greenstein’s hometown, Plainsboro, and West Windsor from her current district into s seat that includes South Brunswick, where Zwicker lives, North Brunswick, Franklin and Montgomery. The Assembly members from that district are Joe Danielson (D-Franklin) and Sadaf Jaffer (D-Montgomery).
The Republican plan creates a possible convention or primary fight between Smith and Diegnan in a district that includes New Brunswick, Piscataway, South Plainfield in Middlesex and Plainfield, Scotch Plains and Fanwood in Union County. That would put incumbents Joseph Egan (D-New Brunswick) and Linda Carter (D-Plainfield) in the same district. Plainfield had been in the 17th from 1981 to 2001.
The 16th district drawn by the Republicans return Bridgewater, which has been in the 23rd for the last decade and could set up a Senate race between three-term Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough) and the GOP mayor of Bridgewater, Matthew Moench. As drawn, the Republican seat includes Bedminster and Readington, Manville, North Plainfield, Green Brook, Dunellen and Middlesex Borough.
Under the GOP plan, Princeton, which was the lynchpin of the Democratic success in the 16th for the last decade, moves to the hugely-Democratic 15th district.
Both parties keep the 19th relatively similar to its shape for the last 50 years.
Democrats make minor adjustments to the 21st district, adding Madison, Chatham Township and Peapack-Gladstone, changes that would likely keep the seats in GOP hands. Republicans are also offering some minor changes that would add GOP towns like Bernardsville and Peapack-Gladstone and remove Roselle Park.
The Republican suggestion for the 22nd is Linden, Rahway, Clark, Winfield, Edison, Metuchen and Highland Park, an minority-heavy district headed by Scutari that could force Democrats to reshape an Assembly ticket with two white incumbents: Jim Kennedy (D-Rahway) and Robert Karabinchak (D-W
Democrats are proposing to split Jersey City into parts of three different legislative districts, the 31st, 32nd and 33rd. The GOP map has Jersey City in just the 31st and 33rd.
Harrison would become part of the Newark-based 29th district under proposals from both parties – that’s where the town was from 1973 to 1981 – and the GOP plan also puts East Newark in the 29th.
Under the Democratic proposal, District 31 remains in Bayonne and part of Jersey City. The 32nd picks up part of Jersey City and Weehawken, and loses two Bergen County municipalities, Fairview and Edgewater. Union City, Hoboken and part of Jersey City are in the 33rd.
Republicans have suggested a 33rd district that includes Union City, Kearny and part of Jersey City and keeping Bayonne and part of Jersey City in the 31st. The balance of Hudson goes to the 32nd. Both maps put Fairview and Edgewater into the Bergen-based 36th.
Newark and Jersey City were split into three districts from 1973 until 2011, when both parties agreed to consolidate the state’s two largest cities into two districts each to avoid a legal challenge under the federal Voting Rights Act that prohibits diluting the influence of minority voters.
The Democratic map takes the 27th, now represented by Codey and Assembly incumbents John McKeon (D-West Orange) and Mila Jasey (D-South Orange), out of Morris County, but also adding Irvington and Hillside. That sets up a minority opportunity district when Codey retires. The GOP map is nearly identical.
In the 40th district, Democrats want Corrado to add East Hanover and Florham Park in Morris County, Fairfield, Verona and the Caldwells in Essex County, and Woodland Park in Passaic County.
The Republican map takes some of the Bergen County towns out of Corrado’s district – but not Ridgewood — and adds Clifton, Woodland Park and Glen Rock. One of the two Republicans who live in Wyckoff, Christopher DePhillips and Kevin Rooney, could be a casualty of his district if Passaic County Republicans decide they want an Assembly seat.
Democrats want to move Ridgewood from the 40th to the 39th, which under their plan would include Alpine, Rockleigh, Midland Park and Waldwick.
In District 38, Republicans are proposing the addition of Washington Township, Oradell and Emerson, while taking out Bergenfield and Glen Rock.
The Democratic offering in the 26th takes incumbents Webber and Barranco out of the Parsippany-based district and takes the seat north to Wanaque and Oakland.
The Republican map combines East Orange, Orange and Montclair in the 34th with Glen Ridge, Verona, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield and the Caldwells. The GOP extends Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho[s safe seat from Sussex County to Oakland in Bergen.
Neither party appears to have submitted their best and final map to the court-appointed tiebreaker, former Appellate Court Judge Philip J. Carchman.
The deadline to approve a new legislative map is March 1.
Carchman is making the first maps available today but agreed to not publicly identify the author of each map.
“I do not want the maps to contain partisan labels,” he said last week. “I want to eliminate any bias that could be attached to a partisan designation.”
The New Jersey Globe has confirmed the Democratic and Republican submissions.
The Apportionment Commission will hold a hearing on Wednesday evening to get feedback on both maps from the public.
The New Jersey Globe will host a “A Look at Legislative Redistricting” at 7:30 PM to provide an analysis of the first map submissions. Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University will take part in the review of the maps.
Ways to watch: